Just when we think the “next normal” is in sight, it shifts by another 3 months. Or was that 6 months? We all have complex questions and simple questions like, when will we go back to the office?
“Oh, in 3 months…”
“Definitely in 6 months, after the summer.”
“Most likely January 2022.”
“Back to the office, what office?”
The current and near-term business environment is as volatile as it has ever been. It certainly is competing with the crash of 1929 and the depression of the 1930s. And, because of this and the fear of what could happen next, organizations are desperate to have employees with strong Business Acumen skills and competencies. Leaders at all levels of any business need their employees to be able to understand strategy, set strategy, execute strategy through operational decisions, lead people to execute the right strategies, and to understand and drive financial performance and the metrics that matter.
Businesses need everyone to focus on the big picture, develop key relationships inside and outside of the ecosystem, and drive success by making the right business decisions that offer unique, differentiated value to its targeted customers.
In the post-pandemic world of 2021 and beyond, functional expertise is simply not going to be good enough. An employee’s ability to understand the various dimensions of the business and optimize performance with resilience and agility will be critical.
There are many institutions and training vendors out there who offer Business Acumen training solutions. Most are very good and will provide a strong foundation for businesses to grow from. However, as businesses grow and become more educated in the acquisition of of these types of training solutions, one huge fact must always remain in the forefront of thought: Business Acumen is a portfolio of skills, tools, behaviors, and attributes that every businessperson needs to understand so they can effectively achieve the goals and objectives of the company. At the end of the day, understanding the drivers of business simplifies to three basic things; understanding how my company makes money, understanding how my customers make money, and understanding how my competitors make money.
So how can you learn to master how companies make money? Here are a few suggestions:
- Understand how to play to win
- Understand your unique value proposition being offered to your customers
- Have the ability to deliver the value proposition
- Communicate and align across the organization
- Collaborate with others to solve challenges and take advantage of opportunities
- Understand of the drivers of value, revenue, profit, and growth
- Develop a deep understanding of internal and external threats to success
- Have the ability to shift strategy and transform quickly and efficiently
To us at Advantexe, the single biggest learning about this topic during the past year has been the ability for organizations to adapt, show resilience, and do whatever it takes to change strategy quickly and faster than competitors.
Everything changed in a blink of an eye. Sadly, too many great businesses, and too many really smart people, are looking to start over again. For some of them, there was not anything they could do. For others, they adapted too late. In the strategy modules of our curricula, we often quote experts who provide deep research and insights. One of my favorites, and someone who was a mentor to me, Ram Charan once said, “Success depends on a leader’s ability to recognize such moments of disequilibrium in advance – and have the courage and business skills to chart a new course in the face of them.”
Those words ring louder and truer today than they did 20 years ago. As businesses regroup and plan their next 3-5 year missions, their plans will be only as good as the people setting and executing the strategy. Without the appropriate level of business skills, employees will be unprepared for what’s next and unable to both move forward and react in ways that drive success.